Real appointed Zidane on Monday (Picture: Getty)Zinedine Zidane insists he his first choice was always a return to Real Madrid, but refused to comment on if Cristiano Ronaldo would be following him in a return to the club.
Real confirmed on Monday that Zidane was back as head coach at the club, just ten months after the Frenchman quit in the wake of winning Los Blancos’ third Champions League in a row.
Zidane has been linked with a host of positions in his time away from management, including the full-time post at Manchester United.
Zidane is back at Madrid (Picture: Getty)Facing the media on Monday night, Zidane dismissed the links to other clubs.
‘When I left it was the right time to leave,’ he said.
‘I think the players needed a change. It wasn’t just because I wanted to leave, I actually thought after two and a half years winning almost everything we needed something else to maintain the momentum.
‘We won the Champions League that season but there were things that happened during the course of the campaign.
Zidane had been linked with taking over at Manchester United (Picture: Getty)‘I gave it much thought, but I know this is the right decision. I had other offers, but I didn’t want to be in charge at any other club.’
Zidane’s stunning return has sparked speculation about Ronaldo’s future at Juventus, as Real continue to search for a replacement for their former talisman.
Real seem set to finish the season without any silverware, but Zidane did not want to answer questions about Ronaldo or his potential replacement.
Ronaldo left Real last summer with Zidane (Picture: Getty)‘Well, you can ask me but that’s not the question right now,’ Zidane replied to a question about if Ronaldo was a target.
‘There are 11 games and we have to focus on then. You know what Cristiano achieved here, he’s a living legend. One of the best players, but like I said we’re not here to talk about that right now.’
‘I’m not thinking about that at all,’ he continued when asked if he had a replacement in mind.
Zidane spoke at a press conference on Monday (Picture: Getty)‘I’m just here enjoying an important day and I’m happy to be back at this club. I’m only thinking about the last 11 games this season.
‘We will have plenty of time to chat and make those decisions come the end of the season when we plan for the new campaign.’
Zidane replaces the sacked Santiago Solari and signed a three-year contract with his former club.
Press Conference In Full…
‘I’m very happy to be home. What more is there to say, other than I’m happy to be here and I want to get to work.’
Why did you return?
‘I want to put this club back to where it belongs. Now, back to work tomorrow.’
How do you feel?
‘Positive vibe. I’m happy, very happy to be back. I didn’t go very far because I live here in Madrid. I’m happy. Happy to be working once more at this great club and with this group of players.’
Why did you leave last summer?
‘When I left the club it was because I needed to leave the club. Maybe the club didn’t need it, but the players needed it because they’d won everything, every title. I think a change was needed at that time. And now, I’ve chosen to return because the president (Florentino Perez) called me and because I’m very fond of the president, I’m here again. After eight months, I wanted to be back managing again and I made a decision at the end of last season, I think it was the best thing for everyone. A change was needed.’
‘I played here, I defended this shirt. I won many titles, but I’m just one of many. I’m someone who works for this club and I’m not going to forget what we’ve won. But there are also things I didn’t do well. Last season we lost the Cup and were out of the league title race early on. I know where I am. Life is full of ups and downs, you have to accept what happens. I carry a love inside for this club and I’m excited. I’m going to give everything I have to take this team to another level.’
Will you have more control?
‘Things will change, of course. There are things that have to change with a view to the upcoming years. I’m back. I will sit down with the president and the club to see what we can do. Today isn’t the day [where I can answer that question]. There are eleven games left and we have to end the season well. I’m here because he (Perez) phoned me.’
Offers from other clubs?
‘When I left it was the right time to leave. I think the players needed a change. It wasn’t just because I wanted to leave, I actually thought after two and a half years winning almost everything we needed something else to maintain the momentum. We won the Champions League that season but there were things that happened during the course of the campaign [that didn’t go right]. I gave it much thought, but I know this is the right decision. I had other offers, but I didn’t want to be in charge at any other club.’
What did you think when president Perez called?
‘Return, comeback. And here I am.’
Rumours you weren’t sure about return?
‘When I hear these rumours, I’d rather not comment on them. I left the club nine months ago and I haven’t given any interviews. When he (Perez) called me, I couldn’t say no. He understands what happens, what managers and players go through when you’ve won a lot. You can have dips in form and that’s what’s happened this year. I was looking at it from the outside, but I felt I was part of it because there were my players. I’m not happy with how it’s gone and the players are the same. We have to see what’s missing and do well in these final 11 games, and build a good platform for the future.’
Do you want Ronaldo back at the club?
‘Well, you can ask me, but that’s not the question right now. There are 11 games and we have to focus on then. You know what Cristiano achieved here, he’s a living legend. One of the best players, but like I said, we’re not here to talk about that right now.’
‘It’s the best club in the world. Nobody can change the past and what was achieved. I’m happy to be here. But I have to look forward to Saturday’s games. Back with the players again and to prepare for Saturday’s match.’
Could it be a risky return?
‘I haven’t given that any thought. I wouldn’t be here if I thought something negative could happen. I’m a positive person and I’ve managed to rest well these last few months. The Real Madrid president called me and I wanted to return. I’m excited to be here. Maybe four months ago, it wouldn’t have worked out. But this is the right timing and I’m really looking forward to this challenge.’
Do you owe anything to Real?
‘No, I don’t owe anything to Real Madrid for leaving when I left. I have come back now. When I left I thought it was the best decision for everyone.’
‘There are 11 games left and then we’ll see about next season.’
‘I think the team needed a change. After you’ve won everything during five, six, seven years – the team needed a change. There’s not much more to it. Those are my thoughts and feelings. Nine months later, I get called by the club.’
What have you been doing in your time off?
‘Exactly that, nine months living in Madrid, doing my thing, resting and now I’m ready to be the Real Madrid manager again. I love the club a lot. I don’t know if that will upset anyone, but anyway.’
What coaching team will you have?
‘The same coaching team as before.’
‘I want to be there with the players. I’ve been watching the whole season. I’ve been here at the stadium. I think the players realise it’s been a tough season, that it’s impossible to always win. And that is football. Sometimes things need to change. When you’re up there at the top, sometimes you need to experience the lows again and that’s what has happened here. At times it was really tough watching events unfold from the outside. We have to work hard, because that’s the only way to be competitive once more.’
What have people/fans in Madrid been saying to you?
‘Bit of everything really. Some people say thank you. Not [all were] great comments, so it wasn’t all rosy.’
‘Of course, it’s a huge challenge. Not because it’s my second spell here, but because we won a lot before. I’m not thinking about the past. There are many reasons I’m back at this club. Some of them are difficult to explain. I’m really looking forward to taking over this second project. It’s a big challenge, but I’m up to the challenge. I can’t wait to get started.’
What did you do wrong in your first spell?
‘Many things. As a manager last year we won the Champions League, great. But the Cup was tough and we started the league poorly and I was the person in charge. I’m not going to blame anyone. Not Solari or the managers who were here before who tried to do their best for the club. I’m not going to analyse anything. I think we have to look forward and to the future. I first need to sit down with the players.’
Think fans could be upset with you for leaving last summer?
‘I can understand them, it wasn’t rosy these comments on the street. You have to be true to yourself and at that time, I thought it was best to do what I did. When I made that decision it wasn’t a selfish decision, you have to take a lot of things into account and spend time on that decision. It’s great being a manager, but being a manager at Real Madrid is unique. I’m hungry for more.’
Have you spoken to Ramos?
Players could be leaving at the end of the season?
‘I’m not too sure. That’s not what we’re here for. I’m back again because I’ve been granted the opportunity. We’ll see what the future holds. The 11 games are important and we have to end the season as best as possible. One game at a time, and we start Saturday.’
Form of Isco, Marcelo and other players a problem?
‘I don’t think it’s a bad situation to deal with at all. The players that are here have won many, many titles. I’m not here to talk about if someone gets on with someone. I never have and never will. I just want to sit down again and work with them again, and do things well. Starting on Saturday.’
Idea on who could replace Ronaldo?
‘Not now. I’m not thinking about that at all. I’m just here enjoying an important day and I’m happy to be back at this club. I’m only thinking about the last 11 games this season. We will have plenty of time to chat and make those decisions come the end of the season when we plan for the new campaign.’